ROUNDUP: Give The Drummer Some

Photo :  SkySplitterInk  on the kit, courtesy of  Rico James Photography

Photo: SkySplitterInk on the kit, courtesy of Rico James Photography

For this week’s Roundup, it’s all about the producers. This is a mix of new names who deserve far more shine, and mandatory nods to some of the heavyweights who have helped sculpt our humble local scene into something far more serious in the past five years. This is all killer, no filler. Dig it.

First up, two producers that VTHH has legitimately slept on. Kurt Stewart has been at it for a minute, but he’s really distinguished himself in the past year, with a steady stream of strong singles and some dope contributions to the Vermont Hip Hop Collective’s occasional sample contests. Stylistically, his range his huge, and “relapse” is a gorgeous, chilled-out composition.

Coke Kalibay is devoted to big, loud, nasty slappers. His beats always bang, but what really caught my attention is his constant creativity on the melodic front -- dude has a gift. This is another cat who I first caught during a sample contest, and he’s been crazy consistent ever since. All in all, I think it’s time for more sample contests … and more on that soon.

Like many discerning heads around this wide world, I’m a David Chief fan. He has carved out a stadium-sized lane for himself and curated an incredibly talented circle of collaborators, too. “good evening (w/ soft eyez)” is a wild ride, as usual. Chief’s tracks are full of ideas, but he always nails the pocket, the feel, the vibe. These are unusually musical beats, and this cat just keeps improving. Long may he reign.

On the subject of musical masters at work, it’s only right that we turn to SkySplitterInk next. “Erfallte” is typically genre-confounding: is this classical trap? I’ll defer to the experts on that one -- all I know is that it’s dope and I like it. Behind the scenes, of course, the maestro is none other than SkyLab engineer Zach Crawford, who has had his paws on the boards for dozens of local projects in the past year. If you’re looking for a quality recording studio whose engineer understands hip hop? Get in touch with him.

“I can proudly say every song I’ve released I am in love with even to this day,” FATE recently said, and that’s a pretty plausible claim: his catalog is all gems. FATE is an engineer, and his use of VSTs and synth walls is architectural. His beats create space. They’re also heavily informed by the vocabulary of EDM, so some haters have claimed this ain’t entirely hip hop. People talk a lot, though. FATE stays focused on his art.

Es-K has a genuinely international fanbase and he’s working with some of his favorite rappers. It’s hard to imagine a simpler, more authoritative version of “Making It” as a hip hop producer in 2019. Talking about his “tireless work ethic” is an understatement. Saying he crafts some of the best beats the 802 will ever witness is redundant. Es-K is on a separate level now, like the jazz greats of old -- only competing with himself.

Finally, even though I had SKYWISE included in the last Roundup, he’s going in the mix again, because this cat is extremely talented and he’s about to become a lot more visible, too. He is sitting on hours of bangers nobody has heard yet and he’s got multiple album credits on the way this Fall. “Destined” is a beautiful, polished track.

Justin Boland